A Brief History Of Time Travel

So, did you catch NBC’s “Journeyman” on Monday night? Boy, where do I start? I kind of like it … I kind of hate it. I’ll be back for episode 2, but fever dreams of “The Nine” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” have already begun.

Let me say right out front that I’m a big fan of the whole time travel concept. Going back in time to right a wrong … see a loved one long past … or solve a mystery is a very powerful story idea. How often do you find yourself saying, “if I could only go back” or “if I only had a second chance?” I do it a lot. But to make this idea profound and not cheesy, certain rules need to be set. I’m not going to get all D & D on you, but this can’t be a random event … and that’s why I have some early issues with “Journeyman.”

Kevin McKidd is an inspired choice to play the lead character, Dan Vasser. He was awesome in HBO’s “Rome” and he’s clearly gone to the Hugh Laurie School of Convincing American Accents. He’s a newspaper reporter in San Francisco who’s suddenly thrown back in time … same city, different year … sometimes 10 years back, sometimes 20. I’ll spare you the plot summary, but here’s my gist … there’s no rhyme or reason to the way Dan goes back in time. One time it’s a cab, another time it’s walking through a door, another time he crashes his car only he’s not IN the car, he’s gone back in time. How about establishing a portal so we don’t have to play guess that time period all the time?

Also, when Dan goes back in time, there’s no explanation for the fact that he looks EXACTLY the same in past or present. He even fits in his clothes from 20 years back … talk about science fiction! Anyway, you could at least come up with an explainer for that … I don’t know, how about “he appears the same to US .. the viewer .. but in the story the characters see him as they would in whatever time frame’s being explored.” Okay, a little lame, but at least it sets some rules for the world. There’s this terrific scene in the first episode where future-Dan is able to slip into a dinner conversation when past-Dan gets up an leaves for awhile. Loved it, but I couldn’t help yelling at the set, “can’t anyone tell he looks a little older?!”

There was also some god awful dialog. Reed Diamond (is that his real name?!) plays the role of Jack Vasser, Dan’s brother … he’s a cop. So, at one point in the show he actually says, “Hey, I’m a cop, and I’m Dan’s brother.” Thanks for the help dude!

There’s also this creepy relationship thing with Dan being married to his brother’s old girlfriend. Oh yeah, the women … well there’s Gretchen Egolf (that must be her real name) as Katie Vasser (remember that creepy relationship thing I just spoke of) … then there’s Moon Bloodgood (is there some kind of name game going on here?) who plays Livia Beale, Dan’s mysterious ex-lover. Whatever. Both ladies look fabulous in lingerie and I’m sure Victoria’s Secret is somewhere in the credit roll. Who says fan service is just for anime?!

Oops, off the track again … right, rules for time travel. All I’m saying is a more well thought out script could have gotten this series off to a much more compelling start. Will this show make it? Not sure. There’s lots to like … I just wish the writers could go back in time and fix a few things.

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